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London Ambulance Service and St Mary’s Hospital warn ‘Cube’ could put lives at risk

The South East Baywaster Residents’ Association also said access to St Mary’s could be impeded

26 November, 2016 — By Alina Polianskaya

An artist’s impression of the proposed Cube

THE ambulance service and one of the capital’s busiest hospitals warn that a massive office block development could put lives at risk.

The London Ambulance Service and St Mary’s Hospital this week lodged stinging objections to the “Paddington Cube” development saying it would delay “critical transfers” to accident and emergency.

Developers of the former Royal Mail sorting office site plan to create a new access road into St Mary’s, but London Street would be shut to traffic. The LAS, in an official objection, said: “The new access road will increase journey times for ambulances accessing the St Mary’s site. Any increase in journey times during time-critical transfers is likely to be detrimental to the patients’ outcome and quality of life.”

In another submission, Dr Tracey Batten, chief executive of St Mary’s, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said they held “grave concerns” about “risks to the long-term future of the hospital access”.

Following a report by consultants AECOM, they also raised concerns that their designation as the capital’s flagship “major trauma centre” would also be jeopardised. Developers Sellar and Great Western Development – which disputes the claims from the health bodies – propose a 14-storey glass office block that it claims will appear to “float” 12 metres above a new public space.

Sellar says the scheme will deliver important improvements to Paddington station, including a new Bakerloo line ticket hall.

The plans replaced an original 72-storey tower, known as the Paddington Pole. A number of heritage conservation groups have also objected to the scheme including the ­Victorian Society which said the “handsome and impressive sorting office” should not be destroyed. Historic England, who also objected earlier this month, blasting the loss of the historic, “characterful neo-Baroque”-style post office building.

The South East Baywaster Residents’ Association also said access to St Mary’s could be impeded. Its objection said: “We fear ambulances will be seriously delayed in reaching the hospital in South Wharf Road. Praed Street gets highly choked up every day and buses already have great difficulty in passing through this two-way section, due to the volume of vehicles passing through and the constant deliveries by large trucks and small vans on the shops side.”

However, as things stand, overall comments in support of the scheme narrowly outweigh objections, with more than 100 for and 90 against. One supporter said: “Paddington risks being the poor relation compared to the other major London rail termini unless necessary development opportunities are progressed.”

In a submission in response to the LAS concerns, consultancy firm WSP, which is working with Sellar on the project, argued: “The development will have no material impact on ambulance journey time.”

It added: “London Street is currently an attractive location for inappropriate pick-up and drop-off activity for the station and also waiting area for vehicles. This in turn creates convoluted and congested route, the design of the new access road will discourage such activities providing clearer route which will also benefit emergency service vehicles.”


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